By: T’soloane Mohlomi

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and the United Nations Development Program recently held a Human Development Report stakeholder validation session at Avani Lesotho in Maseru.

The Human Development Report (HDR) is an annual Human Development Index (HDI) report usually published by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The HDR measures The HDI which is a summary composite measure of a country’s average achievements in three basic aspects of human development namely: health, knowledge and standard of living.

Various stakeholders were in attendance with research studies and contributions from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the UNDP.

Speaking at the meeting, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning Ms. Nthoateng Lebona said development was a critical aspect of human nature and needed to be taken importantly as no state or society could successfully develop without the proper mechanisms and statistics in place.

She said with the different stakeholders present it was important to fully engage and share insights as the final report needed to be inclusive and address all spheres of society.

“Distinguish Guests, ladies and Gentlemen, although Lesotho’s ranking has moved only slightly since 1990, the human development ranking and index have always been the radar for social development policy. Over the years, the numerous Human Development Reports have heralded advocacy on critical development issues that could adversely or positively impact human development, also introducing new elements that expand human wellbeing, freedoms, and choices.

“All the themes have always resonated in one way or the other with development challenges and trade-offs necessary to achieving inclusive economic growth and development targets. As a people-centric analysis, these reports always awaken us to the importance of human capability in development, and importantly, the transformative effect at individual and societal level.

“The proposed theme for this report is ‘Harnessing Technology and Innovation for achieving Human Development’. Technology is selected as one of the four economic growth – Drivers in the National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II) due to the recognized potential for creating employment and improving economic competitions,” she said.

She added that through the NSDP II, the Government of Lesotho anticipated that ‘The transformative potential of technology and innovation in production systems would improve efficiency, effectiveness, and precision of production necessary to achieve inclusive economic growth and job creation.

She asserted that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology provided solutions where human capability was limited and health risks were major, similarly saying automation had also resulted in loss of jobs and increased inequalities in some industries;

“This may reverse some of the gains already attained on human development. According to the HDR 2021, technological transformation will shape the future outcomes of human development, potentially exacerbating the existing inequalities between societies and people.

“The Lesotho NHDR 2023/24 will therefore explore the role of technology and its potential to achieving human development in Lesotho as anticipated in the NSDP II using the capabilities approach, to determine the potential and realized impact of technology and innovations on human development. The report is expected to provide the policy recommendations for expansion and integration in key economic sectors, infrastructure development and investment to enable technological exploitation for achieving the SDGs and human development in the country.

“The report will not only serve as a policy guidance but will also explore opportunities and benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution for the country and for realizing the NSDP II objectives and SDGs targets.

“The LNHDR will be focused on country’s reality; reflecting national development perspectives; built around priority themes, new challenges and opportunities; use expertise from a variety of sectors; intended to explore a wide range of solutions; provide results on broad and open discussions.”

The P.S lastly, thank the National University of Lesotho in carrying out the development of Lesotho 2023/2024 Human Development Report and UNDP for supporting this initiative. For the coordination and supervision of the process, she also thanked the Ministry of Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Arts and Culture for working in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in making the process a success.